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I was offered roles in sex comedies, Saiyami Kher reveals

The beautiful lass speaks about her journey till date, the ups and downs she faced, the lack of opportunities in Bollywood, and more…



This article is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)

SAIYAMI KHER might not have had the perfect Bollywood debut in Mirzya, but the talented actress is going places. After impressing with her desi, power-packed performance in the Marathi film Mauli, Saiyami is all set to venture into the digital space. The beautiful lass speaks to Karan Sanjay Shah about her journey till date, the ups and downs she faced, the lack of opportunities in Bollywood, and more.

From Mirzya to Mauli, it has been two years. What did those years in Bollywood bring you?

The Friday before Mirzya released, there was a line of big directors and film offers on my plate. But the Friday Box Office changes everything. And a lot of offers that were there, were no longer there because of the way the film panned out. After that, it’s always difficult when you’ve done a film that hasn’t done well commercially. The struggle began then. I was offered a lot of films post Mirzya too, but they were not the kinds I wanted to dive in and start doing. So I just waited it out. I signed a South film with Mani (Ratnam) Sir, and we even did look tests, but that didn’t take off. There was a lot of effort and time that went in, but nothing came out of it. I was offered two Marathi films, but they were characters where the girl has a Western look. I felt that if I’m doing a Marathi film and am going back to my roots, I want to do a film that has a rooted character, which no one had offered to me.

The struggle post Mirzya was with the fact that my look was very Western and everyone thought I won’t be able to pull off other characters. Mauli attracted me because my character is from a very small town near Kolhapur, and she’s in a complete Indian avatar. I am glad that the director and Riteish (Deshmukh – also the producer of Mauli) had that vision and approached me for it. Mauli was huge, it’s the most ambitious, most expensive Marathi film put out there. Also it was Riteish’s next Marathi film post Lai Bhaari, it had Ajay-Atul’s music, and Aditya Sarpotdar directing it. The whole package was great and I couldn’t refuse it. Of course, the most attractive thing was that I got to play an Indian character and thankfully, now, everyone has accepted that I can look desi too.

You mentioned that you take time choosing the right films. How do you choose them? Do you feel a dearth of good scripts?

No, there is no dearth of good scripts. See the content that’s coming out, like Badhaai Ho and Andhadhun. There are a few interesting scripts that are going around, but they are with those selected few 15 or so directors, who everybody is dying to work with. Then there are 15 A-list actresses out there, so, the first preference goes to them. If not them, then the directors look at the B-tier actresses. If that also doesn’t work out, then they think about which star kid they can launch. If not a star kid, they think about launching a fresh face. However, no producer wants to work with an actor who has not delivered a commercially successful film, until you start putting out some great work. You cannot sit and cry if a film didn’t work, you have to move on. It is difficult to choose a script or project that you really want to be a part of.

I really wanted to be a part of Andhadhun. Even though Radhika’s role was really small, I knew the project was brilliant because I’d heard the script. But it didn’t work out for whatever reasons. It gets difficult to break the image after the first film because of these things. I was offered roles in a few sex comedies, but I didn’t take them up because that is not the genre I want to get into. I was also offered a few parts where I was just there and had two songs. Even if there were few scenes and two songs in a huge film, you wouldn’t say no. But it wasn’t even that! I would rather be travelling and spending my time doing theatre classes and workshops. There is no dearth of good scripts, just dearth of opportunities. There are too many people eyeing the same thing.

Even though you have a filmy connection, it’s not been easy for you, has it?

My parents brought us up, my sister and me, in a small town in Nashik, because they wanted to keep us away from the film world. They used to call it the big bad world of Bollywood. But life came full circle and we came back here and I got into Bollywood. The filmy connect is just that my aunt (Tanvi Azmi) works in the industry, nothing more. When it comes to the Marathi film industry, I gave it a thought as my grandmum (Usha Kiran) has left a big legacy in a way. But there is no pressure as she was who she was, and I am who I am. I have a long way to go before even thinking of taking her footsteps ahead. I’ve done the waiting, standing in the queue and doing auditions for several brands… I don’t consider myself a filmy kid.

You are venturing into the digital space, which is booming at the moment. What is your take on OTT and do you follow it?

I have started watching a few shows, even though I am late in joining the bandwagon. I’ve seen Narcos, Breaking Bad, and also watched Sacred Games as the content interested me. The good thing about web series and the OTT platforms is that it gives the audience freedom to choose and watch it in their time. That is why it is doing well, as it’s so much more convenient to sit and watch it at home. It has grown in the past two years, but I don’t think anyone actually knows where it is going.

Right now, everyone is going with the flow as it looks great. However, if you see the statistics of it, even on a larger scale, only two percent of India knows about Netflix, only the richer class. It will take time for it to seep into the B and C centres. As an actor, it gives you much scope to do so many interesting things. Angad (Bedi) is a very dear friend of mine and he is doing so much on the web. He said there was so much content coming out and it was challenging as an actor, as you have to constantly work on it and give a number of hours. Everything is so organised too. For an actor that is amazing.

Coming back to Bollywood, who do you look up to in the industry? Who do you go to for advice?

Rakeysh (OmPrakash Mehra) Sir has become like family to me in the past three years. We connected not only professionally, but also on a more general level, like a mentor. I really look up to him. Every time I’m offered something, I run it by him for his feedback. His opinion is something I hold in very high esteem.

Do you think a Godfather is necessary to thrive in Bollywood?

A lot of people do very well with a Godfather in the industry because it makes access easier. That’s one way of going about it. But, in the recent past, we’ve seen new age people like Ayushmann (Khurana) and Vicky (Kaushal), who have done their own thing, in their own way in Bollywood. They’ve kept at it and they’ve turned out to be two of the biggest stars of the last year. Each one has their own belief, you just find what you are comfortable with and follow that.